The Roman Leisure Industry in Carnuntum

The evaluation of the results of the project “Gesamtprospection Kernzone Carnuntum” brought further spectacular finds to light following the discovery of the gladiator school, the earliest marching camps and the barracks of the governor's guards.  A third amphitheatre, unknown until now, and a whole city quarter with taverns, large bakeries and shops, substantiate well-developed leisure infrastructure which enabled large-scale events such as gladiator games to be held here.  In addition, new city areas were able to be located near the former military city. 

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Extensive leisure infrastructure

North of the amphitheatre (which was excavated around 90 years ago) and the gladiator school in Petronell-Carnuntum, the existence of a whole city quarter with large bakeries, taverns and shops – the basic infrastructure for holding Roman spectacles such as gladiator games (“bread and games”) - was able to be established.

The road to the amphitheatre led outside, through a gate (which had existed from the beginning of the 3rd century AD) in the city wall surrounding the civilian city. Taverns (tabernae), souvenir shops and snack bars (thermopolia) lined the road, with traders offering their wares across shop counters overlooking the street, and inns inviting the public to stay for a while. Behind one of the inns the scientists discovered a storehouse (horreum) and cellar, where no doubt wine was kept. In addition, the remains of a large oven were found, where bread was probably baked for the spectators (up to 13,000) in the amphitheatre. A building complex with numerous bread ovens (excavated in the year 2009 near today's driveway to Carnuntum's car park) would have had the same function.

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Unknown third amphitheatre – until now

Historically even more of a sensation is the finding of an amphitheatre, the existence of which was completely unknown until now. It was situated beneath the later city wall, only 400 metres north of the stone amphitheatre visible today (which dates from the 2nd century AD). Apart from the amphitheatre east of the military camp in Bad Deutsch-Altenburg, this is no doubt the earliest clearly identified leisure area of the Roman city of Carnuntum. It has been proven that the inner cavea-wall and the foundations of the gates were built of stone, with presumably a wooden building rising up behind the wall. Up to now very few purely wooden amphitheatres from such early times are known, e.g. in Kuenzing (Bavaria) or Londinium (Great Britain). This amphitheatre was situated at the crossroads of the two most important routes in Carnuntum: the Limes Road (decumanus) to the west and the route to Rome (cardo) beside a possibly older temple to Silvanus and the Quadriviae (Roman minor deities said to protect those making journeys).

New city quarter near the canabae

To the west of the military camp in Bad Deutsch-Altenburg, north of the Limes Road, a city quarter in the canabae which was until now unknown has been identified. It was completely rebuilt in the course of urban development from the 1st to the 3rd centuries AD. Further investigations must be carried out here in order to demonstrate more precisely the historical sequence of urban development.

Visual aids: http://carnuntum.7reasons.net

 

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